First let’s talk about Ultra Violet Rays, these are your UVB, UVA and UVC. UVB stands for Ultra Violet B. These rays penetrate the upper layers of the skin known as the epidermis and cause the skin to burn. UVA stands for Ultra Violet A. These rays penetrate deeper through the epidermis into the lower layers of skin known as the dermis. UVA rays are the cause of visible signs of aging such as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation (sun spots) and loss of elasticity. Keep in mind UVA rays can penetrate through windows. UVC rays are the shortest rays that are blocked by the ozone. So the UVB rays are the rays that burn, UVA are the rays that age our skin and UVC rays are deadly, so lets hope the ozone never completely goes away! UVB and UVA rays are also known to cause skin cancer.
SPF stands for sun protection factor. SPF only protects the skin from UVB rays. So when looking for a sunscreen look for one that is broad spectrum which will protect you from UVB and UVA rays. Choose at least an SPF of 15-30, wear a hat, sunglasses and remember the sun’s rays are strongest from 10am-4pm, so seek out shade when possible.
The FDA has a new standard for “Broad Spectrum” sunscreen protection which will go into effect this summer. This standard requires new testing and labeling for ALL sunscreens with an SPF of 15 or greater stating they provide “Broad Spectrum” protection.